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Category Archives: Society

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Why do we donate to charity?

It is almost December! December is one of my favourite months. I’ll admit, I’m not a big fan of the cold and the rain. What I do love though is Sinterklaas, Christmas and New Year’s. Just spending time with family and friends. It is the month of celebrations and the month of giving. One of the big events in the Netherlands is the glass house of 3FM Serieus Request, where everybody listens to music and donates money. Last year they collected an amount of 8.466.249 euros! But why do we donate money to charity?

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Dating tips from a Behavioral Economist

Still single? Maybe you should use some economic theory to solve your problem. There are many theories on human decision making which can be applied to your dating life.  In the field of behavioral economics there is the well-known phenomenon called the asymmetric dominance effect or the decoy theory.   This theory suggests that when people are confronted with a choice between two options they have a hard time making a decision. However, adding a third option that is inferior but also similar to one of the options makes the first decision much easier. Namely, the option that is similar to the inferior option will be preferred by most people.  This effect is called the decoy effect because the third option will never be chosen and is therefore just a decoy.

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Stay Connected (or not?)

In 1994, the first commercial smartphone was available. It could send and receive faxes and emails and had an address book, calculator, and even a touch screen display. Since 1994, there have been many developments in this area. And the past decades,  smartphone usage has gone up tremendously.  Almost everyone in the western world owns a smartphone. But should you stay connected?

TTIP

TTIP, a non-economic trade agreement

In 2013, EU governments gave the European Commission a mandate to negotiate about TTIP, a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union. When starting, the two parties thought the negotiations would progress quickly. Now, three years later, the negotiation process seems to become long-lasting. Besides the European Commission, the European Parliament, business and trade unions, consumer-, health- and other public interest groups and the general public at least think they have something to say about TTIP. The negotiations turned out to be much more than just negotiations about economic terms. What are the different aspects of TTIP for our European Union?

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Do we really hate paying taxes?

Most of the students among us don’t mind it when the Dutch IRS provides us with the opportunity to pay our income taxes.  On the contrary, young people usually get some income taxes back which they have paid in advance and students receive (taxfree) study grants. In fact, I would not be surprised if the tax on beer consumption is our biggest fiscal contribution.  But as soon as you work fulltime and you didn’t succeed in starting a fictitious company in the British Virgin Islands, your annual tax declaration will be a painful experience. Are such often-heard complaints really true?

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Russian Contrast

Russia. An intriguing country that has a long history and is a major player in international affairs. You might have heard of it. You might have noticed it on a world  map (it is pretty big). And you might have already formed an idea, image or opinion about the Russian Federation. Which is not that hard, since it is just around the corner from Europe and provides plenty of news items for discussion. But what do we actually know about its culture besides communism, vodka, Putin, Moscow, and Matryoshka dolls? And how can this affect its economic situation?

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Autism: a disorder or a valuable resource?

We have all heard about it and there is a very good chance that you know someone who actually has it: Autism. More and more research is done on this group of complex disorders of brain development. But what are the actual societal costs for these disorders? Or better, what are the possible benefits that autism could have for our society?